LAIE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the athletics program at Brigham Young University-Hawaii coming to an end soon, the men and women's basketball teams played their final games on Monday. Hundreds of Seasider fans gathered in Laie to watch the players face off against Point Loma.
The school attracts students from around the world, and supporters believe the loss of athletics will leave a huge void on campus.
"Sports is something that really connects people globally so I think we're definitely losing that," said basketball player Taryn Skahill.
There used to be about 180 student-athletes participating in the university's 11 NCAA Division II sports teams.
"There are students that may or would have come because of sports that may not come in the future because of sports, or I definitely feel like it's going to be kind of just sad to not have that specific opportunity," said soccer player Lillian Bradley.
Watching the program come to an end has been bittersweet for the school's athletic director.
"It has been a lot of highs this year with our student-athletes and a lot of their wins and accomplishments, but with the next step looming is the bitter part," said Brad Jones.
The school announced the phaseout three years ago. BYU-Hawaii's president is finishing his predecessor's plan to reallocate the athletic program's $1.5 million budget.
"We're going to use the funding that goes into athletics to bring more students from poorer countries that need the kind of scholarship funding that we give for fewer students," explained BYU-Hawaii president John Tanner.
Roughly 20 employees in the athletic department will have to find new jobs, according to Jones. The school's golf, tennis, and softball seasons will wrap up in May.
"We just want to represent the school well. Hopefully, we can win nationals. That would be something awesome," said golfer Nicolas Herrera.
Fans launched an unsuccessful campaign to try to save the athletics program, but some aren't giving up hope.
"It's a little frustrating, but you know maybe they're going to reconsider a couple of years after and they're going to bring it back," said golfer Federico Clausen.
Tanner said the university's primary function is to be an educational institution. He plans to boost the intramural program to provide more activities for students.